RECORDS were broken at Taunton Antiques Auction House in October 2012 when a small white alabaster item sold for almost a third of a million pounds.
The £325,000 paid for the 21cm-wide alabaster item with the uninviting title ‘Small Oval’ at a record auction was more than four times the pre-sale estimate.
Dame Barbara Hepworth’s work was among 165 lots that sold for a total hammer price of £723,000 at Greenslade Taylor Hunt’s antiques auction house in Winchester Street, Taunton.
Expected to fetch between £50,000 and £80,000, it caused astonishment as it was picked up by an anonymous bidder by telephone against a set bid in the hall.
The sale followed another Hepworth piece, ‘Four Forms’, which fetched £98,000.
The spectacular results were achieved during the sale of the collection built up over 40 years by artist Joy Barnes, who lives in Somerset and turns 100 next month.
Auction house manager Stuart Triggol said: “We are extremely pleased to have been able to offer the collection as a whole and to sell it in the West Country, the home of the seller.
“Internal records were broken, with not only the highest price ever for a single lot, but also the highest sales total ever.”
Appraiser and cataloguer Christopher Lanigan O’Keeffe said: “We are delighted with the fabulous outcome of the Joy Barnes collection and honored to have been appointed to manage the sale.
“It should never be forgotten that the great appeal of collections like this is due in large part to the discerning eye of the collector and this has been clearly demonstrated.
“With huge pre-sale interest and a packed auction room, it was clear that Joy’s taste and love for sculpture was appreciated by many others.
“We couldn’t be happier with the result, capped off by the incredible £325,000 directed by Barbara Hepworth.”